Webpage Fox-9 Page 13 BACK TO INDEX
reformer was born at Noyon in Picardy, July 10, 1509. He was instructed in
grammar, learning at Paris under Maturinus Corderius, and studied philosophy in
the College of Montaign under a Spanish professor.
His father, who discovered many marks of his early piety, particularly in his reprehensions of the vices of his companions, designed him at first for the Church, and got him presented, May 21, 1521, to the chapel of Notre Dame de la Gesine, in the Church of Noyon. In 1527 he was presented to the rectory of Marseville, which he exchanged in 1529 for the rectory of Point Eveque, near Noyon.
father afterward changed his resolution, and would have him study law; to which Calvin,
who, by reading the Scriptures, had conceived a dislike to the superstitions of
popery, readily consented, and resigned the chapel of Gesine and the rectory of
Pont l'Eveque, in 1534. He made a great progress in that science, and improved
no less in the knowledge of divinity by his private studies. At Bourges he
applied to the Greek tongue, under the direction of Professor Wolmar.
father's death having called him back to Noyon, he stayed there a short time,
and then went to Paris, where a speech of Nicholas Cop, rector of the University
of Paris, of which Calvin furnished the materials, having greatly displeased the
Sorbonne and the parliament, gave rise to a persecution against the Protestants,
and Calvin, who narrowly escaped being taken in the College of Forteret, was
forced to retire to Xaintonge, after having had the honor to be introduced to
the queen of Navarre, who had raised this first storm against the Protestants.
Calvin returned to Paris in 1534. This year the reformed met with severe treatment, which determined him to leave France, after publishing a treatise against those who believed that departed souls are in a kind of sleep. He retired to Basel, where he studied Hebrew: at this time he published his Institutions of the Christian Religion; a work well adapted to spread his fame, though he himself was desirous of living in obscurity.
is dedicated to the French king, Francis I. Calvin next wrote an apology for the
Protestants who were burnt for their religion in France. After the publication
of this work, Calvin went to Italy to pay a visit to the duchess of Ferrara, a
lady of eminent piety, by whom he was very kindly received.
Italy he came back to France, and having settled his private affairs, he
proposed to go to Strassburg or Basel, in company with his sole surviving
brother, Antony Calvin; but as the roads were not safe on account of the war,
except through the duke of Savoy's territories, he chose that road. "This
was a particular direction of Providence," says Bayle; "it was his
destiny that he should settle at Geneva, and when he was wholly intent upon
going farther, he found himself detained by an order from heaven, if I may so
At Geneva, Calvin therefore was obliged to comply with the choice which the consistory and magistrates made of him, with the consent of the people, to be one of their ministers, and professor of divinity. He wanted to undertake only this last office, and not the other; but in the end he was obliged to take both upon him, in August, 1536.
year following, he made all the people declare, upon oath, their assent to the
confession of faith, which contained a renunciation of popery.
He next intimated
that he could not submit to a regulation which the canton of Berne had lately
made. Whereupon the syndics of Geneva summoned an assembly of the people; and it
was ordered that Calvin, Farel, and another minister should leave the town in a
few days, for refusing to administer the Sacrament.
retired to Strassburg, and established a French church in that city, of which he
was the first minister: he was also appointed to be professor of divinity there.
Meanwhile the people of Geneva entreated him so earnestly to return to them that
at last he consented, and arrived September 13, 1541, to the great satisfaction
both of the people and the magistrates; and the first thing he did, after his
arrival, was to establish a form of church discipline, and a consistorial
jurisdiction, invested with power of inflicting censures and canonical
punishments, as far as excommunication, inclusively.
has long been the delight of both infidels and some professed Christians, when
they wish to bring odium upon the opinions of Calvin, to refer to his agency in
the death of Michael Servetus. This action is used on all occasions by those who
have been unable to overthrow his opinions, as a conclusive argument against his
whole system. "Calvin burnt Servetus!--Calvin burnt Servetus!" is a
good proof with a certain class of reasoner's, that the doctrine of the Trinity
is not true-that divine sovereignty is Anti-scriptural,--and Christianity a
We have no wish to palliate any act of Calvin's which is manifestly wrong. All his proceedings, in relation to the unhappy affair of Servetus, we think, cannot be defended. Still it should be remembered that the true principles of religious toleration were very little understood in the time of Calvin. All the other reformers then living approved of Calvin's conduct. Even the gentle and amiable Melancthon expressed himself in relation to this affair, in the following manner.
(Leonard/ All good and well to speak the best of a man, but to call a pig a dove when the pig has no wings, is as much slander against God as to call a demon to be righteous. There never was any Christianity in Calvin, how then to promote the same? Just because he stole and borrowed from the Holy Scriptures does not make a man righteous. The high priests in the days of Jesus on earth also followed the Torah, while Christ Himself called them vipers-breed, born for perdition. To his death Calvin was in gross violation of all Godís commandments, as his deeds testify.)
a letter addressed to Bullinger, he says, "I have read your statement
respecting the blasphemy of Servetus, and praise your piety and judgment; and am
persuaded that the Council of Geneva has done right in putting to death this
obstinate man, who would never have ceased his blasphemies. I am astonished that
any one can be found to disapprove of this proceeding." Farel expressly
says, that "Servetus deserved a capital punishment." Bucer did not
hesitate to declare, that "Servetus deserved something worse than
The truth is, although Calvin had some hand in the arrest and imprisonment of Servetus, he was unwilling that he should be burnt at all. "I desire," says he, "that the severity of the punishment should be remitted." "We endeavor to commute the kind of death, but in vain." "By wishing to mitigate the severity of the punishment," says Farel to Calvin, "you discharge the office of a friend towards your greatest enemy."
Calvin was the instigator of the magistrates that Servetus might be
burned," says Turritine, "historians neither anywhere affirm, nor does
it appear from any considerations. Nay, it is certain, that he,
with the college of pastors, dissuaded from that kind of punishment."
It has been often asserted, that Calvin possessed so much influence with the magistrates of Geneva that he might have obtained the release of Servetus, had he not been desirous of his destruction. This however, is not true. So far from it, that Calvin was himself once banished from Geneva, by these very magistrates, and often opposed their arbitrary measures in vain.
little desirous was Calvin of procuring the death of Servetus that he warned him
of his danger, and suffered him to remain several weeks at Geneva, before he was
arrested. But his language, which was then accounted blasphemous, was the cause
of his imprisonment. When in prison, Calvin visited him, and used every argument
to persuade him to retract his horrible blasphemies, without reference to his
peculiar sentiments. This was the extent of Calvin's agency in this unhappy
cannot, however, be denied, that in this instance, Calvin acted contrary to the
benignant spirit of the Gospel. It is better to drop a tear over the
inconsistency of human nature, and to bewail those infirmities which cannot be
justified. He declared he acted conscientiously, and publicly justified the act.
was the opinion, that erroneous religious principles are punishable by the civil
magistrate, that did the mischief, whether at Geneva, in Transylvania, or in
Britain; and to this, rather than to Trinitarianism, or Unitarianism, it ought
to be imputed.
the death of Luther, Calvin exerted great sway over the men of that notable
period. He was influential in France, Italy, Germany, Holland, England, and
Scotland. Two thousand one hundred and fifty reformed congregations were
organized, receiving from him their preachers.
triumphant over all his enemies, felt his death drawing near. Yet he continued
to exert himself in every way with youthful energy. When about to lie down in
rest, he drew up his will, saying: "I do testify that I live and purpose to
die in this faith which God has given me through His Gospel, and that I have no
other dependence for salvation than the free choice which is made of me by Him.
With my whole heart I embrace His mercy, through which all my sins are covered,
for Christ's sake, and for the sake of His death and sufferings. According to
the measure of grace granted unto me, I have taught this pure, simple Word, by
sermons, by deeds, and by expositions of this Scripture. In all my battles with
the enemies of the truth I have not used sophistry, but have fought the good
fight squarely and directly."
(Leonard/ And what did the Lord say? "Not every one who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Thy name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from Me, you evildoers.Ē
27, 1564, was the day of his release and blessed journey home. He was in his
That a man who had acquired so great a reputation and such an authority, should have had but a salary of one hundred crowns, and refuse to accept more; and after living fifty-five years with the utmost frugality should leave but three hundred crowns to his heirs, including the value of his library, which sold very dear, is something so heroically, that one must have lost all feeling not to admire.
When Calvin took his leave of Strassburg, to return to Geneva, they wanted to continue to him the privileges of a freeman of their town, and the revenues of a prebend, which had been assigned to him; the former he accepted, but absolutely refused the other. He carried one of the brothers with him to Geneva, but he never took any pains to get him preferred to an honorable post, as any other possessed of his credit would have done.
took care indeed of the honor of his brother's family, by getting him freed from
an adulteress, and obtaining leave to him to marry again; but even his enemies
relate that he made him learn the trade of a bookbinder, which he followed all
his life after.
the most ancient British writer extant, who lived about the time that the Saxons
left the island of Great Britain, has drawn a most shocking instance of the
barbarity of those people.
Saxons, on their arrival, being heathens like the Scots and Picts, destroyed the
churches and murdered the clergy wherever they came: but they could not destroy
Christianity, for those who would not submit to the Saxon yoke, went and resided
beyond the Severn. Neither have we the names of those Christian sufferers
transmitted to us, especially those of the clergy.
most dreadful instance of barbarity under the Saxon government, was the massacre
of the monks of Bangor, A.D. 586. These monks were in all respects different
from those men who bear the same name at present.
the eighth century, the Danes, a roving crew of barbarians, landed in different
parts of Britain, both in England and Scotland.
first they were repulsed, but in A.D. 857, a party of them landed somewhere near
Southampton, and not only robbed the people but burned down the churches, and
murdered the clergy.
A.D. 868, these barbarians penetrated into the center of England, and took up
their quarters at Nottingham; but the English, under their king, Ethelred, drove
them from their posts, and obliged them to retire to Northumberland.
870, another body of these barbarians landed at Norfolk, and engaged in battle
with the English at Hertford. Victory declared in favor of the pagans, who took
Edmund, king of the East Angles, prisoner, and after treating him with a
thousand indignities, transfixed his body with arrows, and then beheaded him.
Fifeshire, in Scotland, they burned many of the churches, and among the rest
that belonging to the Culdees, at St. Andrews. The piety of these men made them
objects of abhorrence to the Danes, who, wherever they went singled out the
Christian priests for destruction, of whom no less than two
hundred were massacred in Scotland.
was much the same in that part of Ireland now called Leinster, there the Danes
murdered and burned the priests alive in their own churches; they carried
destruction along with them wherever they went, sparing neither age nor sex, but
the clergy were the most obnoxious to them, because they ridiculed their
idolatry, and persuaded their people to have nothing to do with them.
the reign of Edward III the Church of England was extremely corrupted with
errors and superstition; and the light of the Gospel of Christ was greatly
eclipsed and darkened with human inventions, burthensome ceremonies and gross
followers of Wickliffe, then called Lollards, were become extremely numerous,
and the clergy were so vexed to see them increase; whatever power or influence
they might have to molest them in an underhand manner, they had no authority by
law to put them to death. However, the clergy embraced the favorable
opportunity, and prevailed upon the king to suffer a bill to be brought into
parliament, by which all Lollards who remained obstinate, should be delivered
over to the secular power, and burnt as heretics. This act was the first in
Britain for the burning of people for their religious sentiments; it passed in
the year 1401, and was soon after put into execution.
first person who suffered in consequence of this cruel act was William Santree,
or Sawtree, a priest, who was burnt to death in Smithfield.
after this, Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, in consequence of his attachment to
the doctrines of Wickliffe, was accused of heresy, and being condemned to be
hanged and burnt, was accordingly executed in Lincoln's Inn Fields, A.D. 1419.
In his written defense Lord Cobham said:
for images, I understand that they be not of belief, but that they were ordained
since the belief of Christ was given by sufferance of the Church, to represent
and bring to mind the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and martyrdom and good
living of other saints: and that whoso it be, that doth the worship to dead
images that is due to God, or puts such hope or trust in help of them, as he
should do to God, or hath affection in one more than in another, he doth in
that, the greatest sin of idol worship.
I suppose this fully, that every man in this earth is a pilgrim toward bliss, or
toward pain; and that he that knows not, we will not know, we keep the holy
commandments of God in his living here (albeit that he go on pilgrimages to all
the world, and he die so), he shall be damned: he that knows the holy
commandments of God, and keeps them to his end, he shall be saved, though he
never in his life go on pilgrimage, as men now use, to Canterbury, or to Rome,
or to any other place."
Upon the day appointed, Lord Cobham was brought out of the Tower with his arms bound behind him, having a very cheerful countenance. Then was he laid upon a hurdle, as though he had been a most heinous traitor to the crown, and so drawn forth into St. Giles's field. As he was come to the place of execution, and was taken from the hurdle, he fell down devoutly upon his knees, desiring Almighty God to forgive his enemies.
stood he up and beheld the multitude, exhorting them in most godly manner to
follow the laws of God written in the Scriptures, and to beware of such teachers
as they see contrary to Christ in their conversation and living. Then was he
hanged up by the middle in chains of iron, and so consumed alive in the fire,
praising the name of God, so long as his life lasted; the people, there present,
showing great dolor. And this was done A.D. 1418.
the priests that time fared, blasphemed, and accursed, requiring the people not
to pray for him, but to judge him damned in hell, for that he departed not in
the obedience of their
pope, it were too long to write.
rests this valiant Christian knight, Sir John
Oldcastle, under the altar of God, which is
Jesus Christ, among that godly company, who, in the kingdom of patience,
suffered great tribulation with the death of their bodies, for His faithful word
August, 1473, one Thomas Granter
was apprehended in London; he was accused of professing the doctrines of
Wickliffe, for which he was condemned as an obstinate heretic. This pious man,
being brought to the sheriff's house, on the morning of the day appointed for
his execution, desired a little refreshment, and having ate some, he said to the
people present, "I eat now a very good meal, for I have a strange conflict
to engage with before I go to supper"; and having eaten, he returned thanks
to God for the bounties of His all-gracious providence, requesting that he might
be instantly led to the place of execution, to bear testimony to the truth of
those principles which he had professed. Accordingly he was chained to a stake
on Tower-hill, where he was burnt alive, professing the truth with his last
the year 1499, one Badram,
a pious man, was brought before the bishop of Norwich, having been accused by
some of the priests, with holding the doctrines of Wickliffe. He confessed he
did believe everything that was objected against him. For this, he was condemned
as an obstinate heretic, and a warrant was granted for his execution;
accordingly he was brought to the stake at Norwich, where he suffered with great
1506, one William Tilfrey,
a pious man, was burnt alive at Amersham, in a close called Stoneyprat, and at
the same time, his daughter, Joan Clarke, a married women, was obliged to light
the fagots that were to burn her father.
year also one father roberts, a priest, was convicted of being a Lollard before
the bishop of Lincoln, and burnt alive at Buckingham.
1507 one Thomas Norris
was burnt alive for the testimony of the truth of the Gospel, at Norwich. This
man was a poor, inoffensive, harmless person, but his parish priest conversing
with him one day, conjectured he was a Lollard. In consequence of this
supposition he gave information to the bishop, and Norris was apprehended.
1508, one Lawrence Guale, who had been kept in prison two years, was burnt alive
at Salisbury, for denying the real presence in the Sacrament. It appeared that
this man kept a shop in Salisbury, and entertained some Lollards in his house;
for which he was informed against to the bishop; but he abode by his first
testimony, and was condemned to suffer as a heretic.
pious woman was burnt at Chippen Sudburne,
by order of the chancellor, Dr. Whittenham. After she had been consumed in the
flames, and the people were returning home, a bull broke loose from a butcher
and singling out the chancellor from all the rest of the company, he gored him
through the body, and on his horns carried his entrails. This was seen by all
the people, and it is remarkable that the animal did not meddle with any other
18, 1511, William Succling
and John Bannister,
who had formerly recanted, returned again to the profession of the faith, and
were burnt alive in Smithfield.
the year 1517, one John Brown
(who had recanted before in the reign of Henry VII and borne a fagot round St.
Paul's,) was condemned by dr. wonhaman, archbishop of Canterbury, and burnt
alive at Ashford. Before he was chained to the stake, the archbishop wonhaman,
and yester, bishop of Rochester, caused his feet to be burnt in a fire until all
the flesh came off, even to the bones. This was done in order to make him again
recant, but he persisted in his attachment to the truth to the last.
about this time one Richard Hunn, a merchant tailor of the city of London, was
apprehended, having refused to pay the priest his fees for the funeral of a
child; and being conveyed to the Lollards' Tower, in the palace of Lambeth, was
there privately murdered by some of the servants of the archbishop.
24, 1518, John Stilincen,
who had before recanted, was apprehended, brought before Richard Fitz-James,
bishop of London, and on the twenty-fifth of October was condemned as a heretic.
He was chained to the stake in Smithfield amidst a vast crowd of spectators, and
sealed his testimony to the truth with his blood. He declared that he was a
Lollard, and that he had always believed the opinions of Wickliffe; and although
he had been weak enough to recant his opinions, yet he was now willing to
convince the world that he was ready to die for the truth.
the year 1519, Thomas Mann
was burnt in London, as was one Robert Celin,
a plain, honest man for speaking against image worship and pilgrimages.
about this time, was executed in Smithfield, in London, James
Brewster, a native of Colchester. His
sentiments were the same as the rest of the Lollards, or those who followed the
doctrines of Wickliffe; but notwithstanding the innocence of his life, and the
regularity of his manners, he was obliged to submit to papal revenge.
this year, one Christopher,
a shoemaker, was burnt alive at Newbury, in Berkshire, for denying those popish
articles which we have already mentioned. This man had gotten some books in
English, which were sufficient to render him obnoxious to the Romish clergy.
Silks, who had been condemned in the
bishop's court as a heretic, made his escape out of prison, but was taken two
years afterward, and brought back to Coventry, where he was burnt alive. The
sheriffs always seized the goods of the martyrs for their own use, so that their
wives and children were left to starve.
1532, Thomas Harding,
who with his wife, had been accused of heresy, was brought before the bishop of
Lincoln, and condemned for denying the real presence in the Sacrament. He was
then chained to a stake, erected for the purpose, at Chesham in the Pell, near
Botely; and when they had set fire to the fagots, one of the spectators dashed
out his brains with a billet. The priests told the people that whoever brought
fagots to burn heretics would have an indulgence to commit sins for forty days.
the latter end of this year, worham, archbishop of Canterbury, apprehended one Hitten,
a priest at Maidstone; and after he had been long tortured in prison, and
several times examined by the archbishop, and Fisher, bishop of Rochester, he
was condemned as a heretic, and burnt alive before the door of his own parish
Bilney, professor of civil law at
Cambridge, was brought before the bishop of London, and several other bishops,
in the chapter house, Westminster, and being several times threatened with the
stake and flames, he was weak enough to recant; but he repented severely
this he was brought before the bishop a second time, and condemned to death.
Before he went to the stake he confessed his adherence to those opinions which
Luther held; and, when at it, he smiled, and said, "I
have had many storms in this world, but now my vessel will soon be on shore in
heaven." He stood unmoved in the
flames, crying out, "Jesus, I
believe"; and these were the last
words he was heard to utter.
A few weeks after Bilney had suffered, Richard Byfield was cast into prison, and endured some whipping, for his adherence to the doctrines of Luther: this Mr. Byfield had been some time a monk, at Barnes, in Surrey, but was converted by reading Tyndale's version of the New Testament. The sufferings this man underwent for the truth were so great that it would require a volume to contain them.
he was shut up in a dungeon, where he was almost suffocated by the offensive and
horrid smell of filth and stagnant water. At other times he was tied up by the
arms, until almost all his joints were dislocated. He was whipped at the post
several times, until scarcely any flesh was left on his back; and all this was
done to make him recant. He was then taken to the lollard's tower in lambeth
palace, where he was chained by the neck to the wall, and once every day beaten
in the most cruel manner by the
At last he was condemned, degraded, and burnt in Smithfield.
The next person that suffered was John Tewkesbury. This was a plain, simple man, who had been guilty of no other offence against what was called the holy other church, than that of reading Tyndale's translation of the New Testament. At first he was weak enough to adjure, but afterward repented, and acknowledged the truth. For this he was brought before the bishop of London, who condemned him as an obstinate heretic.
suffered greatly during the time of his imprisonment, so that when they brought
him out to execution, he was almost dead. He was conducted to the stake in
Smithfield, where he was burned, declaring his utter abhorrence of popery, and
professing a firm belief that his cause was just in the sight of God.
next person that suffered in this reign was James
Baynham, a reputable citizen in London, who
had married the widow of a gentleman in the Temple. When chained to the stake he
embraced the fagots, and said, "Oh, ye
papists, behold! ye look for miracles; here now may you see a miracle; for in
this fire I feel no more pain than if I were in bed; for it is as sweet to me as
a bed of roses." Thus he resigned his
soul into the hands of his Redeemer.
after the death of this martyr, one Traxnal,
an inoffensive countryman, was burned alive at Bradford in Wiltshire, because he
would not acknowledge the real presence in the Sacrament, nor own the papal
supremacy over the consciences of men.
the year 1533, John Frith,
a noted martyr, died for the truth. When brought to the stake in Smithfield, he
embraced the fagots, and exhorted a young man named Andrew
Hewit, who suffered with him, to trust his
soul to that God who had redeemed it. Both these sufferers endured much torment,
for the wind blew the flames away from them, so that they were above two hours
in agony before they expired.
the year 1538, one Collins, a madman, suffered
death with his dog in Smithfield. The circumstances were as follows: Collins
happened to be in church when the priest elevated the host; and Collins, in
derision of the sacrifice of the Mass, lifted up his dog above his head. For
this crime Collins, who ought to have been sent to a madhouse, or whipped at the
cart's tail, was brought before the bishop of London; and although he was really
mad, yet such was the force of
popish power, such the corruption in Church and
state, that the poor madman, and his dog, were both carried to the stake in
Smithfield, where they were burned to ashes, amidst a vast crowd of spectators.
were some other persons who suffered the same year, of whom we shall take notice
in the order they lie before us.
suffered at Oxford; and although he was reputed to be a madman, yet he showed
great signs of piety when he was fastened to the stake, and after the flames
were kindled around him.
the same time one Purderve was
put to death for saying privately to a priest, after he had drunk the wine,
"He blessed the hungry people with the empty chalice."
the same time was condemned William Letton,
a monk of great age, in the county of Suffolk, who was burned at Norwich for
speaking against an idol that was carried in procession; and for asserting, that
the Sacrament should be administered in both kinds.
Sometime before the burning of these men, Nicholas Peke was executed at Norwich; and when the fire was lighted, he was so scorched that he was as black as pitch. dr. reading standing before him, with dr. hearne and dr. spragwell, having a long white want in his hand, struck him upon the right shoulder, and said, "Peke, recant, and believe in the Sacrament."
this he answered, "I despise thee and it
also;" and with great violence he spit
blood, occasioned by the anguish of his sufferings. dr.
reading granted forty days' indulgence for the sufferer,
in order that he might recant his opinions. But he persisted in his adherence to
the truth, without paying any regard to the malice of his enemies; and he was
burned alive, rejoicing that Christ had counted him worthy to suffer for His
July 28, 1540, or 1541, (for the chronology differs) Thomas
Cromwell, earl of Essex, was brought to a
scaffold on Tower-hill, where he was executed with some striking instances of
cruelty. He made a short speech to the people, and then meekly resigned himself
to the axe.
is, we think, with great propriety, that this nobleman is ranked among the
martyrs; for although the accusations preferred against him, did not relate to
anything in religion, yet had it not been for his zeal to demolish popery, he
might have to the last retained the king's favor. To this may be added, that the
papists plotted his destruction, for he did more towards promoting the
Reformation, than any man in that age, except the good Dr. Cranmer.
after the execution of Cromwell, Dr. Cuthbert
Barnes, Thomas Garnet, and William
Jerome, were brought before the ecclesiastical
court of the bishop
of London, and accused of heresy.
before the bishop of London, Dr.
Barnes was asked whether the saints prayed for us? To this he answered, that
"he would leave that to God; but (said he) I will pray for you."
the thirteenth of July, 1541, these men were brought from the Tower to
Smithfield, where they were all chained to one stake; and there suffered death
with a constancy that nothing less than a firm faith in Jesus Christ could
Thomas Sommers, an
honest merchant, with three others, was thrown into prison, for reading some of
Luther's books, and they were condemned to carry those books to a fire in
Cheapside; there they were to throw them in the flames; but Sommers
threw his over, for which he was sent back
to the Tower, where he was stoned to death.
persecutions were at this time carried on at Lincoln, under dr.
longland, the bishop of
that diocese. At Buckingham, Thomas
Bainard, and James
Moreton, the one for reading the Lord's
Prayer in English, and the other for reading St. James' Epistles in English,
were both condemned and burnt alive.
Anthony Parsons, a priest, together with two others, was sent to Windsor, to be examined concerning heresy; and several articles were tendered to them to subscribe, which they refused. This was carried on by the bishop of Salisbury, who was the most violent persecutor of any in that age, except bonner. When they were brought to the stake, Parsons asked for some drink, which being brought him, he drank to his fellow-sufferers, saying,
merry, my brethren, and lift up your hearts to God; for after this sharp
breakfast I trust we shall have a good dinner in the Kingdom of Christ, our Lord
and Redeemer." At these words Eastwood, one of the sufferers, lifted up his
eyes and hands to heaven, desiring the Lord above to receive his spirit. Parsons
pulled the straw near to him, and then said to the spectators, "This
is God's armor, and now I am a Christian soldier prepared for battle: I look for
no mercy but through the merits of Christ;
soon after the fires were lighted, which burned their bodies, but could not hurt
their precious and immortal souls. Their constancy triumphed over cruelty, and
their sufferings will be held in everlasting remembrance.
were Christ's people betrayed every way, and their lives bought and sold. For,
in the said parliament, the king made this most blasphemous and cruel act, to be
a law forever: that whatsoever they were that should read the Scriptures in the
mother-tongue (which was then called "Wickliffe's learning"), they
should forfeit land, cattle, body, life, and goods, from their heirs for ever,
and so be condemned for heretics to God, enemies to the crown, and most arrant
traitors to the land.